New Old Dolls Part One: Made in Japan

Recently Naomi was able to get me several old dolls so over the next couple of weeks there are going to be a few posts about them.

The weekend before last she stayed at home in Oatlands to go to the “Whole Town Garage Sale” an event that happens there every year. Naomi often finds interesting dolls around Oatlands. I think that there must have been a few collectors around at one time as they often show up at The Bargain Shop, the local Op Shop. A couple of years ago she got me two celluloid dolls from a local couple’s garage sale too.

This year she found a couple at a big garage sale on a property near Oatlands and they are the ones I’ll write about today.

The first doll I want to show you is a big girl, probably about 20 inches, I still tend to think of my older dolls in terms of inches rather than centimetres. We have named her Wendy.

Wendy has a few issues, she looks like she’s had a hard life. So far all I have done is change her outfit. She arrived in a vintage dress but I decided that this yellow dress and cardigan would suit her colouring better, especially as she already had yellow socks on. It is a vintage baby dress which I have used for my baby Theresa in the past. I have some other vintage baby clothes Theresa can wear so this belongs to Wendy now. It is a little bit big but a safety pin or stitch at the back will fix that. The cardigan is also a little large but not enough to notice.

Wendy needs a light clean, especially around her face and I will do this soon. Naomi says that one of her legs nearly detached when she took her out of the car. Wendy is a strung doll but I think I can probably fix that problem myself. She won’t be moving about much in future, once our permanent display is in place she will have a spot on a shelf or in a pram or high chair and there she will stay except for dusting and photography. Sadly her other issues I can’t really fix but most of them are covered by her clothes. As you can see she has some melt marks which Naomi thinks look like cigarette burns. I don’t know how people can be so nasty to damage dolls like this. I don’t see how this could be accidental damage. I’ll have a look into whether there is something I can use to fill the hole in her lip but the other two I won’t mess with. The mark on her arm looks a little like the scar our smallpox vaccinations made when we were children so we can say that she got that when she emigrated. The other one won’t be seen.

Wendy is made of a plastic material I believe. She may be made of celluloid but she seems heavier than John and Elizabeth my other two celluloid dolls. I don’t know a lot about celluloid, perhaps there was a heavier type? Wendy does have a doll mark but it is so worn that it is impossible to read even with a magnifying glass. I think that the inscription might say “Made in Japan” but I really can’t be sure. The emblem inside is a fleur de lis. does mention this mark as one that appears on celluloid dolls from Japan. It is associated with the Royal Celluloid Co. Ltd.


I have done a bit of searching online and have found a couple of dolls on eBay that look a lot like Wendy and have the same mark. It definitely does say Made in Japan. The sellers of one doll say it is circa 1920s and is a celluloid doll. They add that the doll has been in the same family for around 100 years so I guess they would know what they have. I saved the picture of the doll and the mark to my Pinterest as I could not get a good photo of Wendy’s mark.

The other doll that I would like to share today is also a celluloid doll and made in Japan. He also has red hair and we have named him Pauly.

Pauly – celluloid made in Japan

Like Wendy, Pauly has some issues. The worst is that at some stage someone broke his leg but it has been glued back together.

I am not sure what the little mark on his head is but I will try to remove it. Pauly came dressed as a girl but I immediately agreed with Naomi that he was a boy so I took his little dress off. It’s in good condition and will be handy for another doll later. I will make him a better outfit but for now he is wearing the cardigan he came with and some knitted trousers I got with another doll.

Pauly has a doll mark on his back which is quite legible. A bit of searching revealed the name Sato Sankichi. I’d guess that he too is from the 1920s or 1930s.

I haven’t found a lot of information about either of these companies or the dolls they made after reading a few blog posts and articles. If anyone can point me in the direction of a few more detailed articles about Japanese celluloid dolls I’d be very pleased.

So that’s my show and tell for today. The next couple of posts will be about British dolls as Naomi also found me a Pedigree baby and yesterday she was offered several other dolls including a couple of Roddy’s. I won’t see those until next week probably but I’ll try to do a bit of reading in the meantime.



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